Tag Archives: extended survival with a terminal illness

Getting some things in order

Looking back, I see that I began my previous post with the words, “First, the good news”. ¬†What I didn’t get around to saying was that I’d been struggling again with an old demon of mine, depression.

The day after my return from Colorado, David off for work and Peter at a friend’s house, I was resting on the couch, quite alone with my thoughts (sometimes a treacherous place to be). Without warning, a tidal wave of grief just rolled over me; literally taking my breath away. Suddenly I was sobbing and gasping for air, absolutely panicked.

Fortunately, I had the good sense to call my daughter Jemesii, who assumes an incredibly calm and capable demeanor in times of crisis. She talked me off the wall. As luck would have it, two of my closest friends chose that particular day to also check in and I managed to pulled myself together.

However, one thing was clear. I was feeling completely overwhelmed.

While in Boston on Monday, I ran into my favorite thoracic social worker. We had a brief chat about both the wonder and the very real strain that accompany extended survival with a terminal illness. It is increasingly difficult, I explained, to maintain a constant state of gratitude, when in fact the very things I am grateful for are taken for granted on a daily basis by healthy folk. And how those of us with advanced cancer have necessarily adapted our expectations (as have our families). Unable to rid our bodies of disease, we live with it; an uneasy cohabitation at best.

During my recent convalescence, David and I had some meaningful conversations about practical steps that could be taken to help me feel more in control again. Twice a month, someone will come to clean. David and I will begin marriage counseling with a therapist who is schooled in cancer related issues. Although not our first go around, we could really use a refresher. And, we are looking into boarding school for Peter’s junior and senior years of high school.

As strong as my resolve to continue surviving may be, the hard truth is it may not be doable. And, should my health deteriorate, it will be very difficult for David (who travels quite a bit for business) and Peter to get by. It would really ease my mind to know that Peter had an established community and a supportive environment to fall back on, particularly in the event of my passing. I feel there is real potential for the right boarding school to provide that.

And as for me? My anxiety has greatly lessened now that some proactive steps have been put in motion. Being able to get back on trial came as a great relief. It wasn’t just my physical self that was out of balance; I’d been long overdue for some major housekeeping in the emotional department as well.